France: New immigration law expected late 2016

A new law is expected to reorganize and create new work permit categories, create a work permit exemption for eligible foreign workers on assignments under three months and consolidate residence permit options. The implementation date of the new provisions is expected to be announced in November 2016, along with related process and documentary requirement changes.

New Talent Passport Category

A Talent Passport category is expected to provide a four-year visa and work permit for the following foreign nationals:

  • Students with a Master’s degree seeking a work permit;
  • EU Blue Card holders;
  • Intra-company transferees under a French contract;
  • Scientists;
  • Foreign nationals with a Master’s degree who seek to start a business in France;
  • Foreign nationals who seek to start an innovative project recognized by a French public body;
  • Foreign nationals seeking to invest in France;
  • Legal representatives (employees or agents);
  • Artists; and
  • Foreign nationals with established international reputations (in scientific, literary, artistic, intellectual or educational fields or sports).

The law would effectively eliminate the need for the above foreign nationals to apply for a work permit with the local labour authority in France.

Talent Passport holders’ dependants are expected to be authorized to work for the same duration as the main applicant’s authorization.

New Intra-company Transferee Categories

The law would also establish three new residence permit categories for intra-company transferees: the Seconded Employee ICT category, the Trainee ICT category and the ICT Mobile Employee or Trainee category.

 Key Facts on Seconded Employee ICT Category

  • Would be available for managers and foreign nationals providing expertise to a company in the same corporate group who have worked in the affiliated company for at least three months.
  • Duration would be based on the length of the assignment in France, up to three years.

 Key Facts on Trainee ICT Category

  • Would be available for trainees who have worked in an affiliated company for at least three months with sufficient financial means of support.
  • Training must take place in an institution or a company in the same corporate group and must be approved by the appropriate administrative authority.
  • Duration would be based on the length of the assignment in France, up to one year.

Key Facts on ICT Mobile Employee/Trainee Category

  • Would be available for EU nationals with a comparable residence permit in another EU member state. 
  • Would allow a stay up to three years for employees and one year for trainees (the stay in the other EU member state would count toward the total allowable stay period).
  • Dependants would be eligible for a residence permit authorizing them to work.

Work Permit Exemption

The law also proposes a work permit exemption for foreign nationals working in designated fields in France for up to three months. The designations are expected to be delineated in November.

Fewer Residence Permit Categories

The law would also reduce the available residence permits from seven categories to the following three types of cards:

  • The salaried card, valid for one year, renewable annually, for foreign workers under indefinite-term contracts;
  • The temporary worker card, valid for one year, for intra-company transferees or foreign workers under fixed-term contracts; and
  • The entrepreneur/professional services card, for self-employed foreign workers.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

When the law is implemented, employers and foreign workers should benefit from consolidated work and residence permit categories as well as from the work permit exemption.  The related application process and documentary requirements are also expected to be streamlined.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK